"So how did you guys know to come here?" Mary asked as Rachel helped her out to the station wagon to go to the hospital.
"I saw the note taped to your locker. I was really pissed that you didn't tell me about it as soon as you came out to lunch."
"I hadn't seen it yet."
Mary gave Rachel a sideways glance. "I did want to tell you when I saw it after lunch, but you'd stormed off."
Rachel sighed. "Oh geez, I'm such a bad friend." She opened the door for Mary and helped her get into the station wagon.
"No, you're not. You were awesome today. So you saw the note and called Grandma?"
Rachel nodded. "I was mad, but I knew you needed help. You can't do everything yourself, Mary."
Mary lowered her eyes and nodded. "I know and I will tell you everything. I'll bore you to tears with everything."
Rachel grinned. "If I start snoring, just poke me." Mary smiled back.
"I expect to be told things too. Next time, you will call me before facing something like this again," Grandma told her as she got into the driver's seat. Mary nodded again. She was beginning to feel like a bobble head, but she deserved it. She hadn't been thinking when she'd rushed to Cy's house.
Kyle got in on the other side of the car.
Mary gave her grandmother a questioning look through the rear view mirror. Her grandmother shrugged.
Grandma started the car and turned to Rachel. "I'll be back shortly to help with the rest of the cleanup."
"You better. I might mix cleaning chemicals or something. There are many reasons my family has a housekeeper."
Mary grinned and waved to Rachel as they drove away. The grin slipped away when she turned back and stared at the back of Kyle's head. Why was he coming with them?
Mary sat in an uncomfortable silence beside Kyle in the emergency room. At the house, Grandma had looked at Kyle’s head and cleaned the cut made by the lamp. It wasn’t bad enough for stitches. Grandma had interrogated him thoroughly about how he felt. She'd looked closely at his pupils and decreed that he didn’t have a concussion. He didn't need to see a doctor, but he’d come with them to the hospital anyway.
He hadn’t said anything since they'd left his house. After helping Mary fill out the insurance forms, Grandma had left to go back and finish helping Rachel clean-up the Ashers' home. Mary didn’t know why Kyle stayed with her. It was like he didn’t want to let her out of his sight.
Well, if he weren't going anywhere, Mary took a deep breath. “Could you tell me why you were wearing Ricky's locket?”
Kyle sat hunched over with his hands clasped together. He shrugged his shoulders in response to her question. “Just a dumb idea I guess.”
“But how'd you end up with it in the first place?”
Kyle tilted his head back and stared at the ceiling. “I found it when I went down to the basement after I heard all this stuff crash down there. All these boxes had fallen over, and when I started putting them back up, the locket sort of fell on my shoulder. It scared the crap out of me. I thought it was a freaking snake. When I reached down to pick it up, I thought I would show it to Mom, but when I picked it up, I changed my mind. I decided to wear it, and I got meaner everyday that passed until I couldn't hold in the hatred anymore.”
Mary sat there in shock. She knew exactly which day Kyle was talking about. She’d lured Kyle into the basement. “Ricky decided for you to wear the locket. You didn't have a chance from the get go.” She wasn’t sure if her words were to reassure him or herself.
“Then I was possessed or something?”
Mary’s eyes slid to Kyle. “That's what I think. Or did you really want to go twelve rounds with me?”
“Oh God,” Kyle said, putting his head in his hands. “I can't believe I did all that. I mean I really wanted to hurt you.”
“Hey,” Mary said, grabbing his shoulder. “You didn't want to hurt me. It was Ricky. I don't blame you.”
“Still, you’re not supposed to hit girls. Hitting on them is fine, but…”
Mary smiled. Even if it had been Kyle's body that had terrorized her for the past couple of days, it hadn't been Kyle, the person. She was beginning to like Kyle, the person, or at least, she didn't detest him.
“I should've been stronger,” Kyle murmured.
“It wasn’t your fault,” Mary assured him again.
Kyle shook his head. It would take him a little while to get over it, but she was positive he would. A nurse came over to them, pushing a wheelchair. “Miss Hellick, we're ready to see you now.”
“Thanks,” she said. With Kyle’s and the nurse's help, she got into the wheelchair. Her ankle had swollen to the size of a grapefruit, and the tiniest weight on it hurt like a thousand bee stings. As the nurse prepared to take her to an examination room, she turned back to Kyle. “Go home and help with the clean-up. Tell your parents you accidentally destroyed the microwave. They’ll believe you. Don’t worry about it. It’s all over.” Kyle nodded.
“Mary?” he called.
Mary turned back again.
“Thanks for, you know, saving me and stuff,” he said, suddenly self-conscious. Mary smiled back at him.
Mary sat silently in the front seat of her grandmother’s old station wagon on her way to school. The doctors had said she shouldn’t do a lot of walking for the next month. Yep, she had sprained her ankle and was using crutches in the meantime.
How Kyle had ended up with the locket still troubled Mary. She felt culpable, and she didn’t like that. She’d been trying to help, but maybe she’d made things worse.
“Grandma, I went to the Ashers’ house one time that you don’t know about.”
Grandma turned and looked at her inquisitively. Mary squirmed in her seat. “I went over when no one was home to get rid of Ricky, but I couldn’t get into the basement safely. Kyle showed up while I was trying and instead of just running, I riled up Ricky to cause a distraction and make Kyle go to the basement.”
“Why did you send Kyle to the basement?” Grandma asked.
“I wanted him in there so he wouldn’t see me leave that's when Ricky put the locket on Kyle.”
“Oh,” Grandma said. She took a deep breath through her nose and looked out the windshield in thought.
“It’s my fault Kyle got possessed. Isn’t it?” Mary scrunched down in her seat unhappily.
Grandma didn’t answer immediately. When she did, it wasn’t with denial. “It was wrong of you to knowingly send a person into a place with a malevolent spirit. You put him at risk. You couldn’t have known Ricky would give Kyle his anchor, but he could have hurt him. Mary, you have a very special gift that you must be responsible with. You know that there is more than just the living plane, and while others may not know or believe, you have to be conscientious of their safety.”
Mary nodded. She must have looked miserable because Grandma reached across and ran her hand through Mary’s hair. “I’m glad you told me about this and proud that you could discern that you may have done something bad, but in the end, you also did a great deal of good. You not only expelled Ricky but also released the spirit of his wife. You gave the Ashers a house that they can now truly make their home. Learn from this experience, and you’ll be able to do more good the next time you help someone.”
Mary gave her grandma a startled look and said nervously, “I don’t want to make this a regular thing. I want to live as close to a normal life as I can.”
“I know, but someone may come across your path like Cy did that you will want to help.” Mary nodded and gave her grandmother an easy smile. Once again, the fortuneteller had cemented her claim to coolest Grandmother ever.
Mary waved goodbye as her grandmother pulled away from the school. She was struggling with a side door into the school to avoid most of the early morning crowds when a nice person pushed the door open and held it for her.
“Thanks,” she said. She was too preoccupied with her crutches and her book bag to look up at the person.
“Mary, what happened to you?” Mary raised her head in surprise. Cy stood holding the door for her.
“Um, I sprained my ankle. It’s no big deal,” she said.
“No big deal? Anything involving crutches is a big deal. Are you okay? How’d you sprain it?”
Mary stared at him in surprise at his interest. She briefly thought about telling him the truth. ‘Well, it happened while I was saving your house from a homicidal ghost. Sorry about the microwave,’ but she decided against it. It would be her little secret, along with Kyle’s and Rachel’s and Grandma’s. Okay, maybe it wasn’t such a little secret, but none of them would tell what happened. It was too weird, and Cy had already proven that he couldn’t handle weird.
Mary wished that she didn’t have to lie to Cy, but this would have to be like her secret identity. She’d be regular old Scary Mary at school, and Super Scary Mary, at other times, able to vanquish ghosts with common household appliances, but she was not going to run around in a cape and change clothes in phone booths. Some things were just silly. Rachel would probably do it.
Seeing that Cy was still waiting for an answer, she ruefully grinned and said, “I tripped down the stairs yesterday. I know it's really stupid. Would you mind not telling anyone? I’d rather they think it was due to a motorcycle accident or something.”
Cy smiled. “Your secret’s safe with me. Do you need help with your books?”
Mary blinked for a moment. She couldn’t believe Cy was being so nice to her. What had changed? “Aren’t you still mad at me or something?”
Cy looked down for a second. He squared his shoulders and looked back up at Mary. “I know that I’ve been a jerk, and I hate being a jerk. Let’s just let bygones be bygones and just be okay. Okay?”
Mary didn’t know how to answer. She heard what he didn’t say. He didn’t say let’s be friends again. It made her feel empty. She had to swallow painfully before she could answer. “Okay.”
“Okay,” Cy repeated with a grin. He took Mary’s backpack and walked with her to her locker. Mary was quiet on the trip. She feared that the only reason he was walking with her was because of the crutches. As soon as they were gone, he’d be gone. He was just being nice, but he didn’t have to help her. Did this mean there was hope? Could they become friends again eventually? Mary stole a look at Cy. He was looking down the hall. He didn’t seem tense or nervous to be with her. He looked relaxed and maybe even a little happy if the upward turns at the corners of his mouth were any indication.
Cy glanced at her from the corner of his eye. He caught her looking. He turned and gave her a full grin. Mary quickly tilted her head down. How did he always catch her looking? She knew that she was probably blushing a little, but she was smiling too.
“Mary, did something happen between you and Kyle since you came by my house that second time?”
Mary quickly glanced at Cy. “Why?” she asked. Kyle should’ve returned to normal now that Ricky’s influence had been removed.
“He’s been acting weird.”
“Like nicer and stuff. It’s really weird.”
Mary smiled to herself. “I wouldn’t worry about him. I’m sure he’ll grow out of it.” Cy grinned and escorted her to her first period class. He gave Mary her books and left with a wave.
Mary sat in contentment. Her life was going really well. She’d patched things up with Cy, she’d taken care of a nasty ghost, and she wouldn’t have to participate in gym for the next three weeks. Yes, life was looking good.
The intercom system clicked on. “Mary Hellick, please report to the guidance office.” Mary scowled. Scratch that. Life had been looking good.
“Mary, it hasn’t been two full weeks of school, yet you’ve already run afoul.”
Mary leaned her crutches against the wall and hopped over to the chair. She shot Mr. Landa a frown. If only he knew what could happen in two weeks.
“Eastern Snyder frowns heavily on skipping classes,” he continued.
“I’m sorry. I would’ve gone to class if I hadn’t been in the ER,” she said.
Mr. Landa’s eyes narrowed slightly as he looked at her bandaged ankle. “Yes, and how exactly did you sprain it?”
Mary smiled. “Well, you see, there were these ninjas…”